New­ton All-stars be­gin quest for World Se­ries ti­tle

13-year old team can be­come the county's sec­ond world cham­pion

The Covington News - - Sports - Josh Briggs jbriggs@cov­news.com

It’s said his­tory re­peats it­self. For the sake of 14 lo­cal youths and their coaches, that hap­pens next week.

The 13-year old New­ton County All-Star cap­tured the Ju­nior Dixie Boys state ti­tle ear­lier this month with a 23-9 win over West Ge­or­gia White in state tour­na­ment in Colum­bus and will rep­re­sent Ge­or­gia in the Dixie Boys World Se­ries. The dou­ble elim­i­na­tion tour­na­ment be­gins to­mor­row at Seneca, S.C., New­ton County plays its opener at 1 p.m. against Vir­ginia.

New­ton's All-Stars will try to bring a World Se­ries cham­pi­onship back to Cov­ing­ton for the first time in 13 years. The last team to win a na­tional Dixie Boys cham­pi­onship was the 1998 Dixie Mi­nors team that cap­tured the in­au­gu­ral World Se­ries in Hat­ties­burg, Miss. That team went un­de­feated and outscored its op­po­nents 38-14. They de­feated Ten­nessee 6-1 in the fi­nal.

This year’s team has the same op­por­tu­nity. Af­ter win­ning their open­ing two games of the state tour­na­ment 10-9 and 10-6, they pounded West Ge­or­gia in the fi­nal to evoke a con­fi­dence that this team may be as good as that one 13 years ago.

“I’d be dis­ap­pointed (if we didn’t win),” New­ton coach Tins­ley Bai­ley said. “We haven’t done what we set out to do. We feel very good and we think we can win it. I think this group is play­ing solid enough that they can win it.”

The team is made up of many of the play­ers who fin­ished sec­ond to Troup County at last year’s state tour­na­ment. New­ton County lost the cham­pi­onship game a year ago 3-2.

The team con­sists of play­ers D.J. Pow­ell, Phillip Rowe, Mar­quell Stevens, Au­gus­tus Mur­ray, Gray Ritchey, Jared Jones, Jake Jones, Blake Shope, Hunter Phillips, Austin Tay­lor, Ja­son Cloer, Stephen Jor­dan, Hunter Ed­mond­son. Coaches Lee Banks, Jessie John­ston, Bai­ley guided the team to a per­fect 3-0 record at the state tour­na­ment.

New­ton County got it done at the plate but it was per­haps their pitch- ing that made the dif­fer­ence.

“The pitch­ing is prob­a­bly the strength of our team,” Bai­ley said. “Blake, Austin and Gray are our most dom­i­nant pitch­ers and we have a lot of other kids that can pitch. But this was a to­tal team ef­fort.”

New­ton County played in a tune-up tour­na­ment last week­end and has been prac­tic­ing twohours daily to pre­pare for what they hope will be an­other world cham­pi­onship for Cov­ing­ton.

“It is the work ethic,” head coach Tins­ley Bai­ley said. “These kids had two-and-a-half hours of prac­tice ev­ery day for two weeks lead­ing up to the tour­na­ment. They’ve worked hard to get here and we’re not done yet.”

File photo

In 1998, the New­ton All-Star team cap­tured the in­au­gu­ral Dixie Mi­nors world ti­tle. This year’s 13-year old team has a chance to match that feat and bring the county’s sec­ond-ever World Se­ries crown.

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